The European Union is likely to grant the United Kingdom a third Brexit extension in October to avoid a no-deal exit, a leaked European Parliament draft resolution seen by Business Insider suggests.
The resolution, which was put together by the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group, indicates that members would support a fresh extension if there was a clear purpose, “such as to avoid a ‘no-deal exit,’ to hold a general election or a referendum, to revoke Article 50, or to approve a Withdrawal Agreement.”
The resolution says the European Parliament is prepared to extend the UK’s membership in the EU beyond October 31, the scheduled exit date, as long as the institutions and functioning of the EU are not “adversely affected.”
The resolution also restates the Parliament’s position that any Brexit deal must contain a backstop for preserving the status quo on the island of Ireland and avoiding a hard border. It also expresses concern with the conduct of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, including its handling of the settled-status scheme for EU citizens wishing to stay in the UK.
MEPs would support a ‘justified’ Brexit delay
One member of the steering group, Danuta Hübner, who met on Wednesday with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, told MEPs afterward that the Parliament would likely back a new Brexit delay if requested by the UK and supported by leaders of EU member states.
Asked about the prospect of an extension, Hübner said: “It has to be very clearly said for what. I think that would facilitate the decision on our side if we know that there will be elections, there will be a referendum, there will be now a deal and there is time needed for ratification.”
Hübner also confirmed that a European Parliament resolution at the plenary next week is likely to support an extension, paving the way for the European Commission to offer one once EU leaders have signed off on such an agreement.
“We will probably support … the request for the extension, but it would have to be justified,” she said. “We have a new Parliament, we don’t know how it will look, but we are confident that we will have the support.”
However, Hübner said the UK would be expected to continue participating as a fully-fledged member state for as long as it remains in the bloc.
Johnson has said he “would rather be dead in a ditch” than ask the EU to delay the UK’s scheduled departure date from the EU.
But the House of Commons last week passed a bill that would require him to request an extension if he fails to secure a deal after a crunch summit of European leaders on October 18.
That has led to speculation that he will either resign — paving the way for a different leader to request an extension — or perform a dramatic U-turn and ask Brussels to extend the UK’s exit date until January.
France threatens to veto a 3rd extension
Not all member states are enthusiastic about the prospect of a third extension to Brexit.
The French government, which has taken the most hardline approach to Brexit of the 27 other member states, last week threatened to veto an extension because of a “worrying” lack of progress in talks.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s foreign minister, said the lack of realistic proposals Johnson’s government had put forward was a sign it was not serious about talks.
“It’s very worrying,” he said. “The British must tell us what they want.”
Asked about the prospect of an extension beyond October 31, he said, “We are not going to do this every three months.”
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